Powers Of Ten
The New York Times recently included an interesting graphic,“Separated at Birth,” which compares the image of the universe to that of a mouse’s neurons. The graphic strangely suggests that the universe may wrap around itself as we delve more into the infinite or the infinitesimal.
This notion is captured nicely in this Simpson’s Power of Ten video. The Simpson’s video is actually a parody of the original Power of Tens video produced by two IBM scientists; the scientists also have a www.Powersof10.com website that depicts 10X transitions across both space and time. This video has resulted in numerous copycats: “Secret Worlds: The Universe Within,” and “CellsAlive! How Big.”
In the early nineties, I read a book by Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, called Only the Paranoid Survive, which describes how 10X forces create strategic inflection points, which can topple established companies. Intel faced such a disruptive transition as it moved from being primarily a memory chip company to a CPU company in the last eighties. It left such an impression on me, that it’s the only thing I recall from the book.
Being a quantitative person, I tend to evaluate features in product in terms of quantifiable attributes. Mark Miller, of DevExpress, also uses quantifiable metrics to evaluate the usability of a feature. For example, he measures the amount of mouse distance and keyboard costs required by each new feature. When viewing feature sets quantitatively, I often look at is what the introduction of an order of magnitude change in productivity would mean for the design of a product. I often tell people that the goal of one of my future products is to improve the writing process by a factor of ten.